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3 min read

The Modern Landscape of Dedicated Servers

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When you hear "hosting requirements", think cloud; nevertheless, bare metal still has its place in this crazy modern world. The world has been pushing cloud down our throats over the past ten years. In 2013 the G-Cloud framework was introduced, which supports the U.K. government's Cloud First policy. This policy encourages public sector organisations to evaluate and pursue cloud-based services instead of on-premises alternatives - Let's step back a second, "as opposed to on-premises alternatives". In reality, it meant that the U.K. government should be considering Managed Service Providers with relevant technology solutions to support their requirements.

I hear you shouting, "tell me something new" - I agree this is not news, but the fact is still relevant today since these concepts have helped shape the modern market.

The next generation of dedicated servers

Is there a place in modern hosting environments for dedicated servers? I believe so. The reality is that as businesses push toward a multi-cloud or hybrid cloud environment, we have started to witness workloads running on infrastructure designed to run such workloads. Whilst a stark opposition to adopting the attitude of, "well, everyone is putting it on public cloud, I guess we should too". When we analyse actual requirements instead of perceived ones, something magical happens – We get the right solution for the problem. At the end of the day, what is private cloud if it isn't a bunch of dedicated servers with a full-stack orchestration solution installed on it? If you need more resources in your private cloud, you add more dedicated servers (compute or storage nodes). Simple right?

Well, yes and no. Not everyone can afford a private cloud solution. Not everyone wants to go down the public cloud route for various reasons ranging from pricing models to compliance and data sovereignty. In addition, realistically speaking, some workloads don't fit on public cloud, and full-blown private cloud is overkill.

Maybe you require two virtual machines with massive disks – Where do you put this workload? A requirement of this nature could be deployed to public cloud, but the storage costs would be cost-prohibitive in many cases. Do you set up a private cloud for two virtual machines? It seems overkill from my perspective. So, should we set up two dedicated servers and away we go? Maybe, but there is an alternative.

Businesses should benefit from virtualisation in today's world, regardless of whether it is private cloud, public cloud, or a redundant pair of hypervisors. Various technologies do not require distributed storage platforms and can use virtualisation to deploy virtual machines with a resilient backup. A classic example would be Microsoft Hyper-V. Many of our clients create clusters with S2D (Storage Spaces Direct), but such a solution has a minimum node and disk requirements.

Let's cut the requirements back – Let's say we adopt a traditional RAID 10 solution on the servers and utilise Veeam to back up the virtual machines (RAID is no substitute for backups). We could have a secondary hypervisor and enable replication; this would benefit the user by taking advantage of virtualisation technologies to reduce their hardware footprint (thus reducing costs) and still afford them the benefits of virtualisation. Various other solutions on the market, such as Proxmox, could work just as effectively as a Microsoft solution.

There are specific businesses that don't need any disaster recovery; in this case, a single hypervisor is sufficient with a sensible RAID configuration and a comprehensive backup strategy.

Whilst it may be an unpopular notion to have a non-cloud approach. However, the concept does remind me of the old story around backups from the '70s, which, to cut a long story short, had the punch line: "Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of magnetic tapes hurtling down the highway".

Sometimes we are so caught up in what's current and what the world expects us to do that we miss the mark entirely and end up with solutions that are not suited to the purpose. So I have always used a consultative approach to drive down into the technical details of what is required, not what a supplier wants to sell or what a client thinks they need.

You can build amazing things when people work together!

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